Take away the spooky Halloween, but keep the pumpkins, hay bales, gourds, and corn stalks. Add warm colored wool blankets, ornamental cabbage planted in peck baskets, and a “Thankful” sigh to welcome Thanksgiving guests.
What better way to celebrate natures bounty and all of the hard work farmers and gardeners commit to throughout the summer season? Halloween outdoor decorating.
The Urban Gardener is always happy to decorate for any holiday, but Halloween might be our favorite. 💀🎃👻
Pumpkins were purchased from Sterino Farms in Puyallup, Washington.
Garden designers: especially those of us that install many container garden plantings throughout the seasons; are you often left with a few extra annuals after installs? The “oopsies” that you had to have but don’t really fit? Or, the “better get a few extras just-in-case?”
Don’t you end up using these extra plants in your own container gardens (once you finally get around to planting your own towards the end of June)?
This is a story of my last pot: the pot of ill repute.
It starts on a rainy cold day sourounded by several weathered cardboard flats full of outcasts and a few things I bought for myself. Plants were going together really well for most of my pots. I’ve been digging bright orange for the last few years and slowly I’ve been replacing yellow with dark purple. I love it!
Now I’ve come down to the last pot. Ugg, just plant it and be done. The pot holds one random perennial salvia which won’t start to bloom till August, but whatever. Add a couple Petunia ‘Night Sky’ (awesome), and a Dahlia Starsister ‘Orange Stripes’ (How did I miss the tag showing the white stripe? Drag). Then some unknown Coleus and “Voilà.” I still have a ton of room left… Ok, in goes an Ipomoea batatas ‘Blackie’ because black potato vine is always a good addition. And then, two rouge Diascia barberae ‘Darla Red’ (OMG, they are soooo bright hot pink against the bold orange, royal purple, AND the white. Gasp). But wait, there’s still more room and only one garish Heuchera x ‘Georgia Peach’ (What are you thinking?), but I did it. Then I had to wait (because annuals have to grow in for a few weeks to look good, I wish they came with that as a warning on the label).
Only one word can describe the final result: bad ass.
Reposting our original post on How To Grow Vegetables in Hay Bales.
Three years ago, I started to hear about this “hay bale gardening.” I’d seen it done many times, but never really stopped to explore the idea, until I got a rush of regular gardening clients that were looking for advice on how to start their own hay bale gardens.
So, I did what any garden consultant does… I started my own. I am officially hooked!
I started with 5 bales of alfalfa hay. Choose carefully where you want to place your bales, because once you start watering, there is no moving that wet heavy bale. Position the bales so that the tied/twined side of the bale is the outer wall. You need that twine to contain the walls. I also had a few rods of rebar leftover from another projects, so I drove the rebar into the ground to hold the bales in-place should they ever shift.
Next step: sprinkle 1-cup of ammonium…
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If you just found us, our previous blog post Hay Bale Veggie Garden, Here’s How I Did It. shows the initial steps for setting-up and treating your bales. Here’s what’s next:
Your hay bales should have heated up and cooled down in about 10 days. Once they’ve cooled they are ready to plant.
For my hay bales, I topped dressed them with some potting soil. You don’t have to. I wanted to seed lettuce, chard and spinach into the tops of my bales right away, so I added the 2 inch layer of organic potting soil to give those seeds a good start.
You can see in the picture below, that I added a nice tomato (Sungold, probably). It was easy to separate the hay and “plant” or tuck in the 4-inch potted tomato plant. I had five bales total and I planted two tomatoes plants, two different cucumber plants, zucchini, spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, and basil.
The plants were supper robust from the bales being fed a heavy dose of ammonium nitrate. The tomatoes and cucumbers were some of the healthiest plants I’ve ever grown.
The downer was the amount of snails and slugs that found my hay bales. The nighttime feeding was so intense that I bought a cheap pair of hand pruners just to snip the slugs in-half (the goo ruins pruners, so don’t use your Felcos). It was hard at first, I started with cutting the little ones, but one night and a big slug that could wipe out most of my lettuce crop turned me into a highly efficient slug hunter. The big ones have a little give when you cut em. Ick! But I like fresh grown baby lettuce, so I kept cutting down the slimy heard. A headlight from the camping store and you’ll be set for night hunting.
The alfalfa bales also sprouted like crazy. It wasn’t really that bad, you would have to weed your garden beds anyway. The alfalfa sprouts plucked out easy peasy and at knee height.
Side note: I wish I could show you more pictures, but the camera with all of the pictures got stolen. Wah.
I did keep the bales in-place and grow in them again next season, but the bales were falling apart and the plants were not nearly as lush and productive as they were with year one. That fall, the bales along with the fallen leaves and grass clippings, made a beautiful compost ready for spring.
I would definitely grow veggies in hay bales again. I would do it exactly the same, but I don’t think I would use the same bales a second year. I hope you try it and tell us how you grew your veggies using hay bales in the comments below.
We took a few old iron headboards and used them to mask the ugly central air unit. The finished product is planted with vines that will grow in. We chose to only grow vines on the large front-facing frame to keep a safe amount of air circulation available for the unit. Here’s how we installed it:
Post hole digger helps with the limited digging space. Mattock helps loosen rocks, loppers for tree roots, hori hori for digging out more rocks, rubber mallet for setting the PVC, level, and hand broom.
We set the two smaller outside headboards in PVC footings. That way the headboards can easily be removed so the central air unit can be serviced.
Once the headboards were absolutely level, we added cement to the footings. Notice the PVC being cemented in and the headboards can be easily removed.
Letting the concrete cure overnight. Vines will be planted on the front headboard. This garden install will last forever and add charm to this courtyard garden.
Christy, The Urban Gardener
We’re back for the 2017 Vintage Market at The Tacoma Home and Garden Show. Join us January 26th to the 29th with dozens of our favorite vintage, upcycled, and salvage dealer friends.
Tickets are $12 and parking is free.